Agriculture is defined as “the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other product.” However, as companies continue to develop new technologies, that definition may be outdated in just a few years. From soil-less greenhouses to animal-less meat, the race to feed a billion more people by 2030 is on, and the leaders are high-tech, highly valued companies.
In February of this year, Morehead, KY-based AppHarvest went public via a reverse merger at a $1 billion valuation. They raised nearly $500 million with plans to invest in more Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) facilities, as well as in companies like Root AI, which is an agrobotics and artificial intelligence company AppHarvest acquired for $60 million.
The rise of companies like Appharvest have put a spotlight on Kentucky and many have challenged the state to become a hub for Ag-tech innovation in the United States. In June of last year, Governor Beshear doubled down on that challenge and announced a plan to build ‘America’s agritech capital’ in Kentucky.
Some of the benefits of Governor Beshear’s plan:
Start-Up Loans for Agribusinesses
New Economic Development Programs
Energy and Environmental Support
Access to Universities for Research and Development Resources
Agriculture is nothing new for Kentucky. The state has always had a resilient and efficient agricultural community. From supplying hemp fiber for rope during World War II to providing tobacco for the cigarette boom during the “Mad Men” era, our farmers have always produced quality crops. However, as weather patterns change and labor costs continue to increase, farmers are faced with problems they have never experienced before. For this reason, it is imperative for companies like RootAI to provide solutions for outdoor farming just like they do with indoor farming.
As “harvest” season approaches, my hope is to be able to learn more about these companies and organizations who are taking on the challenges of a changing agricultural climate and share them with you here. If you have any suggestions on companies that we should look in to, reach out to us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok!
For those of you who like to dive into rabbit holes, I have included some links below that will scratch that itch.